Readability, Suitability, and Characteristics of Asthma Action Plans: Examination of Factors That May Impair Understanding
OBJECTIVE: Recognition of the complexity of asthma management has led to the development of asthma treatment guidelines that include the recommendation that all pediatric asthma patients receive a written asthma action plan. We assessed the readability, suitability, and characteristics of asthma action plans, elements that contribute to the effectiveness of action plan use, particularly for those with limited literacy.
METHODS: This was a descriptive study of 30 asthma action plans (27 state Department of Health (DOH)–endorsed, 3 national action plans endorsed by 6 states). Outcome measures: (1) readability (as assessed by Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid, Gunning Fog, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, Forcast), (2) suitability (Suitability Assessment of Materials [SAM], adequate: ≥0.4; unsuitable: <0.4), (3) action plan characteristics (peak flow vs symptom-based, symptoms, recommended actions).
RESULTS: Mean (SD) overall readability grade level was 7.2 (1.1) (range = 5.7–9.8); 70.0% were sixth-grade level or higher. Mean (SD) suitability score was 0.74 (0.14). Overall, all action plans were found to be adequate, although 40.0% had an unsuitable score in at least 1 factor. The highest percent of unsuitable scores were found in the categories of layout/typography (30.0%), learning stimulation/motivation (26.7%), and graphics (13.3%). There were no statistically significant differences between the average grade level or SAM score of state DOH developed action plans and those from or adapted from national organizations. Plans varied with respect to terms used, symptoms included, and recommended actions.
CONCLUSIONS: Specific improvements in asthma action plans could maximize patient and parent understanding of appropriate asthma management and could particularly benefit individuals with limited literacy skills.
- disease management
- health literacy
- patient-doctor communication
- patient education
- practice guidelines
- DHHS —
- Department of Health and Human Services
- DOH —
- Department of Health
- F-K —
- FOG —
- Gunning Fog
- FRE —
- Flesch Reading Ease
- SAM —
- Suitability Assessment of Materials
- SMOG —
- Simple Measure of Gobbledygook
- Accepted August 14, 2012.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics